True love begins with loving oneself first. Think about for a minute. How can you give what you do not have within you- or what you deny yourself?
Self-love was not a something that I consciously considered or thought about while growing up. Perhaps like many people who come from a similar (Mideastern) life background, we were raised to take “care of the other”, to help and give to the other, to be reliable family member – in short, “the others” come first. That was our role. Understandably, we grew up in diaspora, amidst uncertain eco-geopolitical environment.
However, it wasn’t until I went through a personal crisis when I felt there was no one there for me and I felt that I must figure things out on my own. Feeling the way that I did back then, the only way I knew how to deal with the situation was to be hard on myself; perhaps even unforgiving and reprimanding: how could I allow myself to experience such a predicament?
My frustration was obvious during a conversation with one my close cousins, at the end of which his comment surprised me: “you need to love yourself more”. “How do I do that?” I asked naively.
The answer was not something that he could put into words. However, the enigmatic expression on his face, prompted the beginning of my self-discovery journey – and eventually the tag line on my website: Find Yourself. Live Your Life.
Self-love is a vast minefield, but I managed to create a practical short cut for myself, and I would like to share it with you:
- Choose your words carefully when you talk about yourself, statements such as “I am no good at this…” “I am rubbish at that…” “I always attract the wrong people”. You will believe what you are saying- an invitation for others to believe it too and treat you or judge you as such.
- Do NOT put yourself down, out of insecurity or humility; because others will.
- Be positive, allow yourself to be all that you can be; until you truly are. “Second nature” is nurtured not forced.
- Use positive statements, even when you are describing negative situations; like “I can’t make up my mind now, but I will later”, or “I can’t remember now, but it will come to me”, or “I am not skilled at this now, but I will be”, etc.
- Self-esteem and confidence come from realising what abilities you have and what you can achieve through them if you allow yourself the opportunity to express them. Start a hobby or learn something new. It may even lead you to your life path!
- Learn to enjoy and love your own company. Explore several ways of quality “alone time”. For me, for example, it’s my morning coffee cup, or last warm drink before going to bed; alone in my room or the garden (weather permitting) where I ease into the day or wrap it up, respectively!
- Allow yourself time to enjoy what you like, however trivial it may seem, instead of putting it off because other tasks are more important. In other words, find what gets you into the “Zone”, and then stay there longer.
- Some of the “zones” I created for myself were having coffee by the Serpentine in London’s Hyde park, growing a herb garden in a tiny flat balcony, making chutney from wild fruits my late husband and I picked during autumn country walks, watching sunsets at our nearby beach in Dubai, evening walks with my cousin Shibel, evenings Tetley tea cup with my neighbours Ilona and Rabie, growing a cherry tomatoes garden in a pot, reading a book in bed with Woozle cat sitting in my lap; and my latest zone is Yoga on Wednesday evenings with girlfriends followed by a light snack on the Dubai Greek!
- Pamper and reward yourself, do not wait for others to do it for you! Some of the most precious gifts I received were things I gave myself to mark a happy occasion, a birthday, an achievement or simply as reward for adhering to a goal or a commitment I set for myself.
- Finally, and most importantly, learn to say no! You come first. If you are overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated, you are not a good company to keep, love, or receive help from!
How do you love yourself? Please share a comment below and let me know.